Heating bills expected to go down this year for most West Virginians

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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. (WDTV) -- Ready or not, here it comes.

As winter approaches, heating bills expected to go down this year for most West Virginians this year.

Temperatures are dropping. Soon, snow will be falling and your furnaces will be running.

As you change your furnace filters and get your home ready for the cold months ahead, you'll also have to brace your checkbook for when those heating bills come in the mail.

But this year, natural gas customers throughout West Virginia will save a few dollars when they turn up the heat.

The Public Service Commission of West Virginia said in a press release that utilities serving over 91% of natural gas customers in the state filed requests to lower the purchased gas portion of their rates.

The commission said Mountaineer Gas Company asked for a decrease of 3.91% and Hope Gas/Dominion Energy requested an 8.87% decrease.

Dominion Energy West Virginia serves 35 counties of the state, amounting to 100,000 customers.

Dominion customers will see rates drop by around 2.5% this year, a spokesperson said, saving customers about $1.48 each month on their heating bills.

The cost of natural gas has decreased since the start of the Marcellus Shale boom in 2008, and its declines aren't stopping anytime soon, Dominion Energy spokesperson Samantha Norris said.

"That has continued as we have an abundance of cleaner-burning natural gas right below our feet," Norris said. "The residents here in West Virginia are receiving the benefits of that in their utility bills."

Lower prices are still high for some customers. The Public Service Commission suggests working with your energy provider to explore budget billing plans. The commission says this can eliminate sudden sharp increases during winter heating and summer cooling seasons.

Help is available locally for anyone who may struggle to pay for their monthly utility bills. Dominion Energy partners with local organizations and non-profits, like the Dollar Energy Fund, to help with costs.

As for the energy companies, Norris said they're required by law to shop for the most reliable and low-cost gas source.

"We have done that for years and will continue to do that into the future to make sure our customers are getting the most affordable gas supply available to them."